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Stakes are Global in Decline of Pluralism in Indonesia

After their success in discounting the leadership of an otherwise efficient official by using the religion card, radical Islamists are now expected to target West Kalimantan governor Cornelis M.H., who is also a Christian. But they are not likely stop there. The radicals are also likely to try to influence the 2019 presidential election. They vehemently oppose President Joko Widodo, who is popularly known as Jokowi and is moderate and pluralistic. FPI leader Shihab has claimed that Jokowi is avenging the sentencing of Ahok through the pornography case.

The 2019 election is the main concern currently. For, the radicals are apparently eyeing nothing less than political power, though through parties that have been supporting them. And this could also have a bearing on how democratic Indonesia remains. For it’s the authoritarian politicians and parties that need the support of groups like the FPI to compensate their lack of popularity and track record with the use of religion.

Hard-line groups like the FPI have put consecutive governments since 1998 in a conundrum. Governing parties and lawmakers have long debated whether such groups should be banned, but they have erred on the side of caution by allowing them to function due to fears that such an action could force radicals to become terrorists. Now, there is an added possibility of unrest and instability if these groups are proposed to be outlawed.

However, with the strength and networks of the NU and Muhammadiyah, it is not impossible to build consensus among the people for banning hard-line groups. As an alternative, the Jokowi government can also adopt a policy of zero tolerance towards radical group vis-a-vis law and order and also deal strictly with officials in the police and the military who help such groups.

The sooner it is done, the better it is for the future of Indonesia, and the world.

June 14, 2017

This WEA-RLC Research and Analysis Report is used with permission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission (RLC).



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Category: Church History, Spring 2017

About the Author: Fernando Perez is a writer, researcher, and analyst for World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission (RLC).

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